Palm Pre and Homebrew Apps

I've been waiting for years to dump my Palm Treo 700wx. I was looking at the Apple, but fortunately the Pre came along, and saved me from the iPhone.

The Pre has some great potential, and some annoying shortcomings. Fortunately, the Homebrew software scene is out in full force, but you have to jump through some hoops to install anything that's not out on the Palm app store.

I tried a few methods to do the install, including the Palm Mojo WebOS SDK on my 64-bit Windows machine, the SDK on a Windows XP virtual machine in VirtualBox, and the WebOS Quick Install.

No matter which route I tried, I constantly got errors trying to connect with Novacom:

C:\Users\dillononthecoast>novacom -t open tty://
unable to find device

While I'm not sure why the XP VM didn't work, I eventually found that the problem with the Windows 7 machines was caused by missing Novacom drivers. To install the Novacom drivers on XP, you have to edit the Novacom installer from Palm, and install them manually.

Here's what I did, from start to finish.

  1. Edit and install the appropriate msi file found in the Palm webOSDoctor jar. The complete instructions can be found on precentral
  2. Install the latest Sun Java 1.6 JRE
  3. Download the WebOSQuickInstall.jar from precentral
  4. Plug in the Pre, and select "Just Charge" when prompted on the phone
  5. Launch the previously downloaded WebOSQuickInstall.jar and install some homebrew software

While at it, I also installed the Palm Mojo SDK and a VirtualBox Pre emulator. Now I can connect to the Pre from the command-line using novacom, and if I ever get any free time, try my hand at developing some Pre apps.

C:\Users\dillononthecoast>novacom -t open tty://

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